Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from D. L. Morel, 29 September 1806

Philadelphia september the 29. 1806.

your Excellency.

however impeded in some fiew cases, by our political institutions, should be the display of philosophy, there are neverthless many where a true philosopher is gratified by any afforded opportunity of unfolding his love to mankind. this so eminently exhibited love by your excellency is for me an incitment of offering him with the homage of a project to apply oars perhaps, to our vessels of the largest sise, which in many circomstances Would preserve the lives of our fellow creatures. I do not pretend that the project should be so perfect as to admit no alteration: the creation it self was not the Whole cast at once. I do not pretend also that your excellency Would take the tedious perusal of the long explanation of the figures; but submitted to the investigation of men learned in the trade of seafaring, they could, perhaps, find in it some means of bringing it to usefulness; by some alterations; and from the experiment upon some small craft, they could be lead to apply it to some vessels of the largest sise: and Which could be deemed a mere fancy, at the first view, could be turned into an useful discovery.

Came in the united states in september 91. I had sent, in the latter end of 90, a copy of this project in the french language to governor Mifflin, by one of his intimates, with prayers to present it to congress. when came at philadelphia, I was surprised that my writing had been missed and Was after several months of reseaches found in a desk with many other papers. some of my acquaintances took the charge of conveying it by one of the representatives, but some days afterwards, I received an answer that the way commonly used was to ask for a patent. so repugnant to my feelings was such a mode, I deemed it a kind of injury to congress to sollicit a privilege securing exclusively to my self a discovery useful to mankind; I believed that to governments alone a discovery of this sorte was convenient, say to them afterwards, if they were judging proper, to bestow to the contriver any tocken of approbation. moreover being neither carpenter nor a seafearing, and my properties runing the risk of being destroyed, by the insurrection of the negroes, I have in vain foretold, as they are completly, such a grant would have been absolutly useless. since that time I kept it concealed: but my love of mankind invigorated by a constant dayly intercourse with J.J. Rousseau the last six months I lived in the principalty of Newhatel in switzerland which had offered a kind of refuge to that amiable persecuted philosopher, being inflouinsed by the meditation of the favour of the answer of your excellency, I believed that never so convenient opportunity could occur, and such is the motive of my offering him With the homage of a project so congenial with his feelings.

I have the honor to be With unbounded respect of your excellency The most humble & obedient servant

D. L. morel

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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